Calif. Supplemental Ed. Providers Lose Under NCLB Waiver

Associate Editor

Providers of supplemental education services in the Golden State had the ground shift beneath them this week when the U.S. Department of Education granted a No Child Left Behind Act waiver to eight California districts that together educate 1 million students.

With the one-year waiver granted at the 11th hour before school opens, the providers of tutoring services will almost certainly face lost business as they have in states that received waivers, where decisions have been made to use the freed-up Title I set-aside funding for other purposes.

The eight districts—Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana—petitioned for the waiver under a collaborative partnership called the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE. Sacramento has already announced plans to cancel provision of so-called “SES” funding, and Fresno will limit the number of providers to the three it chooses, freeing up between $3 million and $4 million in funding, as Lesli Maxwell reports in today’s District Dossier blog post. About $150 million in funding among all eight districts can now be spent as the districts see fit, under the wavier.

Dozens of SES providers in California, where about 300 SES providers are approved by the state, could face shuttering their operations. This is the latest blow to an industry that lost about half its providers through the waiver process, according to Steve Pines, executive director of the Education Industry Association.

“What tends to happen is that school districts go back to an after-school model of providing services on the school site,” said Charles Brown, executive director of Washington-based Healthy Families, a business that last year provided tutoring services to about 700 students in California. Previously, Healthy Families also provided SES in Maryland and Washington, and partnered with organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee—all of which received waivers and no longer provide SES. “In most districts, the waiver was the complete ending of free, after-school tutoring. Immediately and abruptly, it stopped,” he said.

Healthy Families continues to offer tutoring services in Washington, primarily funded by charter schools, and in California Brown said the company—which has operated in five of the eight CORE districts—will rotate its services to other districts, based on need. The non-CORE districts will continue to be required to dedicate Title I funding to SES services, which are typically provided after school in students’ homes, at faith-based organizations, or in community center locations.

At this point, Brown is waiting to receive notification from the affected districts about how the waiver will impact Healthy Families, so his organization can contact the parents whose children received free tutoring through SES, letting them know that the funding has been cut, and they will no longer work with their designated tutors.

Tutor Our Children, a Washington-based organization that is working to keep free tutoring available, indicated in a statement that the CORE waiver could affect services to 50,000 low-income and minority children in these districts.

It is not yet clear how school districts that had been required to provide tutoring via SES for Title I students now will meet their academic needs. “Academic supports for our neediest students will continue, however now with more local control on how to spend our limited dollars,” wrote Jonathan P. Raymond, superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, in his announcement to the staff about the impact of the waiver.

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